We asked our judges and past winners what they believed were best ways to grow your SME, and received a myriad of responses – However, two recommendations popped up again and again in all their answers. These top answers were ‘Growth Hacking Content’ and ‘Customer Engagement’, and so we decided to share our judge’s thoughts on these key topics.
Growth Hacking Content, put forward by eirSpiders judge Bill Liao as his top tip for SME’s, really encompasses all the buzzwords we’ve been hearing over the past few years; Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Shareable Content etc. In an age where we are inundated with messages and calls-to-action it can be impossible to stand out, particularly online and on social media. An endless amount of research has been compiled to find out what ‘stops the scroll’ and makes readers take interest, and ultimately take action. Content, as always, is king – so whether it’s carefully composing headlines, being opportunistic with trends that are on-topic or just making sure you have really incredible visuals – it’s definitely something your SME should be putting thought into.
Robert Farrell echoes this sentiment, advising small businesses to, ‘Make sure your website has a good user experience, on desktop and mobile, as well as using Search Engine Optimisation. It’s also essential to have cohesive social media and content marketing strategies.’ Robert also suggest thinking about online advertising tools such as AdWords and Facebook’s ‘boost’ feature to amplify your companies message.
When speaking to Ian Bergin about what is working for small businesses he highlighted the importance of customer engagement and how in many cases a small business can achieve this in a way that a large corporation would find difficult. ‘SME’s can pivot, be flexible and more customer engaging than bigger businesses. They can also leverage personality, person-ability and real person-to-person engagement in a tangible and real way that monolithic businesses just can’t.’
While more radical in his opinions about company websites, Alan Devlin feels similarly about customer relations and clever content. ‘Forget your website (unless you use it to sell or serve), focus on your social media profile – it’s where the people, and hence customers, are. Always be customer focused, and think ‘Customer First, Content Second, and Business Third’ in your communications.’
Key takeaways? Content and customer engagement will serve small businesses best. If you feel your small business deserves recognition, don’t miss your chance to win and eirSpider Award on 30th of November. Nominations close 27thof September, Apply here.Read more
CEO & Founder of Fathom, a user experience consultancy which works with agencies and organisations to improve online performance, Gareth Dunlop attended the first eir Spider Awards back in the 1990s and has been present at most of them since, as well as judging the Awards on multiple occasions.
When deciding to enter, Gareth felt that the eir Spiders were the ideal platform to celebrate their work with their clients. ‘They are the longest-established awards in the Irish internet calendar, and carry real clout and credibility.’
Since winning an eir Spider Award in 2016, Fathom have been doing increasing work with wearables, service design and IoT and Gareth feels that the Awards have had a positive impact on team moral and have given Fathom real credibility in the marketplace, particularly during business development.
Gareth understands the importance of recognising the success of a company’s technological triumphs, and reward the unique driver’s behind them.
‘At a personal level it is very rewarding for the team, who work so hard all year long, to have their work recognised and to be able to enjoy themselves and celebrate on a night out. From a business perspective it is important to continually wish to better ourselves, measure ourselves against other businesses and benchmark ourselves internationally’
To those looking to enter their names, Gareth suggests thinking carefully about how your entry might stand out from the pack, with a particular focus on business metrics and KPIs that will clarify your achievements and matter to judges and other businesses alike.
If you, like Gareth, want to benefit from worthy recognition, don’t forget to nominate your company for the eirSpider Awards. Nominations close 27th of September, apply here.
We asked some of our esteemed eirSpiders judges what they felt the ‘next-big-thing’ in digital would be, and were not disappointed by their answers…
According to Robert Farrell there are three areas which could have major impact on the future of digital: Artificial Intelligence, voice search and video content. In terms of chat-bots, social media, online advertising, customer insights and operations, Robert believes Artificial Intelligence will have a major impact. We have seen this used very recently by VHI on Facebook, where you could engage in a conversation with ‘Vee’ (essentially a VHI chat-bot) who motivates you to start running with helpful tips and advice.
Robert also feels that voice search will continue to grow and will have big implications for Search Engine Optimization (SEO), eCommerce and the nature of brands.
Lastly from Robert, in a world where ‘content is king’, video continues to become more prominent in organisations’ content marketing strategies. According to Robert ‘we will continue to see organisations embrace content repurposing as we move from a blog-centred content strategy.’
The next big thing in digital for Ian Bergin is ‘how online and offline merge. We’re seeing this with Amazon brick & mortar acquisitions, online marketing to offline sales conversions & analytics.’
For those who are not in the loop, Amazon is experimenting with expanding its footprint into retail stores. Several bookstores have already opened where customers can use their Amazon accounts to pay for books, and get discounted prices if they are an Amazon Prime member. Additionally, the concept of a checkout-less grocery store is evolving. Amazon recently acquired Whole Foods, and is using that platform to expand upon their revolutionary business model. ‘Just Walk Out’ technology automatically detects when products are taken from or returned to the shelves and keeps track of them in a virtual cart. When you’re done shopping, you can just leave the store. This might feel like shoplifting but shortly after you exit, your Amazon account will be charged. With a newly acquired patent for the ability to control online access in a store, Amazon Books is creating a new way of retail for brick and mortar stores.
This development seems like something out of a sci-fi novel but the first ‘Amazon Go’ store is already in Beta testing in Seattle, Washington so you may be visiting a ‘Just Walk Out’ shop near you soon.
It is Alan Devlin’s opinion that the digital world is already ‘heavily focused on machine -learning, augmented reality and we are also looking at blockchain platforms’.
You would have to have been living under a rock to miss the rise of augmented reality (AR) when Pokémon Go hit the market a year ago and the world went momentarily mad trying to catch a Jigglypuff on the way to work. But AR is being used in a range of capacities in areas outside of gaming. Marketing is a strong arena for virtual and augmented reality. Major motion pictures like Star Wars, Jurassic World, Insurgent, The Avengers: Age of Ultron and others have released virtual reality experiences to generate interest, excitement, and a strong memory associated with the brand. AR is also being used in other sectors like healthcare, education and journalism.
As for blockchain, 2008 saw BlockChain invented as a platform for the first decentralised digital currency, Bitcoin. Bitcoin was a revolution that meant low transaction fees, no middleman, and worldwide transactions. The dollar value of a Bitcoin is constantly changing, but is currently near the $3,000 mark with over 21 million Bitcoins issued. However, blockchain has extended far beyond Bitcoin – Ethereum, Corda and Chain Core all based around the distributed ledger system – and we can only expect to see this platform more frequently.
Robert Farrell, Ian Bergin and Alan Devlin will bring their expertise and foresight to the eirSpider Awards on the 30th November, 2017. Nominations close 27th of September, don’t miss your opportunity to be in with the chance of winning. Apply here.Read more
Course Director at the Digital Marketing Academy of Ireland, Robert Farrell believes that Ireland’s adoption of digital technology and digital marketing has been a key element in our recent economic success.
‘2016 saw huge increases in online spending and ecommerce website traffic but we also saw our share of revenue from international shoppers decline significantly. This highlights the need to continue developing our digital presence on the global stage.’
As an educator Robert feels that eLearning is transforming education just as digital transformed marketing, and having judged the eir Junior Spider Awards previously he is extremely familiar with the eir Spider Awards and feels they are different from other award ceremonies in Ireland.
‘Digital excellence is at the core of the eir Spider Awards and there is a commitment to ensuring that the judges, entrants and winners meet the highest possible standards. As a judge, you need to have in-depth knowledge of your categories and be able to justify why you believe a certain organisation deserves to win compared to the other entrants.’
The best part of being involved in the judging process for Robert is seeing how Irish companies and agencies keep up to date with the latest digital trends compared to their international counterparts and thinks even the process of making a submission is beneficial as it allows an organisation to critical review their digital performance, develop their knowledge and work together to promote their organisation.
What is Robert’s advice for businesses looking to differentiate themselves in the tech space? ‘Find inspiration wherever you can, this can inside and outside of your industry. Keep up to date with international best practices and competitors so that you don’t get left behind’Read more
Diplomat, investor, entrepreneur, business mentor, speaker, philanthropist and author, Bill Liao has been on the eir Spider Awards judging panel for a number of years and still considers the awards a crucial part of the zeitgeist in Ireland. The best part of being involved for Bill, is the opportunity to acknowledge some of the great talents within the digital industry.
A ‘great talent’ in his own right, Bill co-founded the business social network service XING and is a venture partner at SOS Ventures, a global venture capital firm and investment management firm. He is also a special diplomatic envoy for St Kitts and Nevis for sustainable development and the environment, and founded WeForest.org, a not-for-profit organization that is combating global warming by sustainably and holistically reforesting previously degraded land – WeForest.org is impressively approaching planting its millionth tree.
However, the venture that is most commonly heard in conversation among the vox populi in recent years is that of Coder Dojo, founded by Bill Liao and James Whelton in 2011. CoderDojo is a global movement of free, volunteer-led, community-based programming clubs for young people. Anyone aged seven to seventeen can visit a Dojo where they can learn to code, build a website, create an app or a game, and explore technology in an informal, creative, and social environment.
In a mere 6 years, Coder Dojo has grown to more than 1,100 verified Dojos in 63 countries, with new Dojos starting almost every day.
Bill views the eir Spiders as ‘one of the best ways to test your company’ and learn where you stand within the industry, and describes the standard of entries so far as ‘Outstanding, outstanding, outstanding.’ Bill recommends that those entering the eir Spider Awards be confident in their proposals, and be explicit about why they think their work is the best.Read more
Long-time proponent of online technologies, and current Chief Experience Officer and co-founder of cogneto.io, Ian Bergin is no stranger to the eir Spider Awards and has seen ‘first-hand’ what they can do for a company’s business profile; ‘These awards are prestigious, & getting one can make your efforts to gain new business with a whole new level of credibility.’
Ian is considered a thought-leader in online services, has been a judge in the SIAA CoDIE Awards for cloud service categories since 2012 and has pioneered the ideal in customer-experience-led revenue generation. According to Ian, the eir Spider Awards ‘the’ awards for anyone in the online/digital space, and is just as enthusiastic about the awards now that he is on the other side of the judging panel.
‘Being able to look behind the scenes at some of the best digital creative out there from Ireland and see how it made a positive impact for those who commissioned it. The story behind the creative is one that rarely gets told outside the walls of the creative offices and it is too often hugely compelling and a real message about its place of importance in today’s business landscape.’
For those creating their entry brief, Ian’s advice is to ‘tell the story’, focusing on your business’s personal narrative and what makes its journey different. Ian insists that regardless of solution size or scale, personality and the ability to be a real person when dealing with customers makes all the difference in the world, and exalts the value of authenticity and understanding – whether your business is small or a global powerhouse.
When asked what he would say to any business considering entering the awards this year, he had only two words in response: ‘DO IT.’Read more
It’s been an interesting year for eDot, according to its founder and 2017 eir Spiders judge, Alan Devlin. As well as taking on some truly high-profile directors including John O’Donovan, CTO and Robert Mbom, Director of International Business, it is eDot’s second year operating as a VC, ‘we’ve met some truly inspirational entrepreneurs, we have invested in some, helped some grow their business and housed others in our new co-working space www.edotconnect.org’.
eDot are also setting up a Central Bank regulated Fund called an ICAV, and will close €100 million by October this year for investment into growth stage software companies in Ireland and selected parts of Europe. ‘Our new fund will be called the eDot Innovation Fund naturally we are very excited about the prospect of helping Irish tech start-ups reaching their global potential.’
As a part of the eir Spiders judging panel, Alan particularly enjoys the collaborative judging and seeing the process play out. Webfactory won 5 awards while Alan was at the helm and he insists ‘it really helped [ Webfactory’s] profile and added at least 10% to our revenue above standard growth.’
In Alan’s opinion the entries in the past have been strong, considered and illuminating and he suggests that anyone considering entering in this year’s awards should ‘be succinct, be bold, and be clear.’Read more
Ireland’s most prestigious technology awards once again seek to showcase the latest innovations in Ireland’s technology space, covering a full spectrum of digital categories. Since its creation in 1996 the eir Spider Awards has recognised the achievements of hundreds of businesses, both large and small, for their ingenuity and creativity in digital excellence.
Technology is always advancing and adapting to change and this is reflected in the four new award categories up for grabs this year, Best mCommerce Campaign, Best in Social Media Optimisation, Best Use of Video and The Elevation Award. With 16 award categories a vast array of technology sectors are represented, from Best in Charity and Not-for-Profit, to Best in Business to Business as well as a variety of digital mediums such as Best in Blogging and Best in User Experience. The eir Spider Awards is also one of the only technology awards to recognise the work of Irish businesses using the Irish language on the web with the Suíomh Gaeilge is Fearr award.
Another new aspect to the awards is the eir Spiders app, where applicants can get useful information on how to apply as well as updates on future events such as this year’s programme of regional digital workshops. Past winners will also be providing content within the app including tips for a successful application and advice on what it takes to become a technology champion. Jules Coleman, co-founder of Hassle.com and 2016 Internet Hero awardee describes the awards as an “amazing showcase of Irish talent”.
Paul Mulqueen, Chairman of the judging panel and Head of SMB, eir, commented, “We work closely with Irish businesses who are constantly reinventing the way they engage with their customers through the endless possibilities that technology offers. We’re proud to support these Awards. They shine a light on the great work that is being done throughout Ireland and reward the many businesses who are taking advantage of technology. All aspiring digital businesses should take this opportunity to apply and showcase their talent amongst what always proves to be a group of incredibly talented and inspiring people. For all those who enter, the awards are a great opportunity to promote their brand, engage with industry leaders and receive comprehensive feedback on their projects from a panel of judges made up of independent industry experts. Competition gets stronger every year which shows not only how much the digital sector has grown but also the exciting opportunities it brings!”
This year’s awards will take place on Thursday, 30th November in the Round Room at The Mansion House in Dublin’s City Centre and will be hosted by well-known Irish radio personalities Dermot Whelan and Dave Moore.
The closing date for all nominations in the 2017 eir Spider Awards is Wednesday the 27th of September 2017
Described as the “one-stop tool for content discovery, news monitoring, and understanding audience interest trends”, Spike from NewsWhip was crowned the eir Spiders’ ultimate champion last year, taking away the Best Use of Data & Web Analytics Award as well as the coveted Grand Prix prize.
With big name clients such as MTV, The Huffington Post, Edelman and Mastercard, Spike from NewsWhip’s success story hasn’t slowed in any way since 2015. They have since grown from about 25 people last autumn to about 50 today.
“We’ve greatly improved our product range and doubled revenues also. We’ve also moved up our ambitions for the company – we see NewsWhip becoming a complete solution for anyone who wants to know what kind of content, authors and influencers win attention in any topic.”
Looking to the future, the Grand Prix winners have big ambitions. They have their sights set on revolutionising content; making it possible for people to find the stories that matter and to tell their stories to the audience that matters. Last year, their innovative product and clever use of data made them the unanimous judges’ choice, a win made even more special as the product team were there on the night to celebrate their work being publically recognised; “it meant a massive amount to them”.
When asked why it’s important to reward the creativity, innovation and achievements of the digital industry in Ireland, the guys at Spike say that the reality today in this country is that we have fantastic work being done by home-grown tech companies – and it’s most certainly worth recognising and celebrating that! Not to mention the boost a win does for your company’s morale; “Great night, and great booster for your team if you win”.
For any company looking to one day be an eir Spiders winner, they advise putting your best, most original work forward as the judges are looking for something stand-out, something completely innovative.
Their #TopTip for anyone just getting going?
“Putting yourself online is not the goal, it’s the first step. Think about how your customer is going to find you. Be ruthlessly realistic!”
The night of the eir Spider Awards is an occasion for celebration and good times – the Spike team says “we loved it – a real break from the hard work to celebrate as a team and dress up nicely too!”
I’m sure we’ll hear more from them in the coming months – check out their website here.
With less than two weeks until this year’s Awards, I wonder who’ll take home the eir Spiders of 2016?
A night of “gongs and good times” is what lies ahead at the 2016 eir Spider Awards and with only 2 weeks to go, we felt it was time to give you all a taste of what’s to come!
The eir Spiders are now celebrating their 21st year and undoubtedly are renowned as the Oscars of the digital industry. And although we take pride in recognising and rewarding the creativity and technical expertise of Ireland’s businesses and organisations, we also take pride in hosting one hell of a show!
Ireland has become known as the epicentre of innovation – something which has helped the Awards grow from strength to strength as the calibre of entries each year constantly improves. But let’s face it, our reputation as a digital hub is equal to that of our reputation as a gregarious and jovial nation. And so, it’s only fitting that we should throw a fete with as much creativity as our shortlistees.
First of all, we’re delighted to be back in the Double Tree – this hotel boasts the best location in the heart of the city centre and the right amount of grandeur to complement the Oscars of the Tech World.
Next, we’ve changed things up a bit this year. Rewarding your digital excellence is our dearest commitment here at Spiders HQ, but entertaining you is also our sincerest promise. So we’ve hired Pop Gods to keep the tunes going with 80s, 90s and Noughties hits – ensuring that music is pumping and the dancefloor rocking.
As always, we’re going to have a few games and gimmicks to keep you occupied! Not to mention some spot prizes which will be revealed on the night and goodie-bags to give you a small piece of the eir Spiders to take home!
Pop Gods, Prizes, Goodies and Games. That all sounds fantastic, right?
And indeed it is! We’re extremely excited to say the least! But the real star of the show (apart from our winners of course!) is our MC – the hostess with mostest – the courageous, the controversial, the colourful, the Queen of Ireland, Dr. Panti Bliss!!
As someone who needs no introduction, Panti is no stranger to the stage. She was the previous resident host of the annual Alternative Miss Ireland pageant, as well as the predominant voice in the Same Sex Marriage Referendum campaign. Throw in sold-out shows, a memoir, a career spanning decades and a bar that lights up Capel Street – and you’ve got the perfect addition to the creative genius that lies behind the campaigns and projects seen throughout all the eir Spider categories.
As an activist and entertainer, Panti is the perfect blend of eloquence and extravagance. We’re sure she will make the eir Spiders’ 21st birthday the most memorable to date.
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